He’s portrayed a repressed German teen, a Disney hero and more than one neurotic gay man. It's too early to bestow the “icon” title on Jonathan Groff, but over the last few years, he has emerged as one of the most prominent out actors in Hollywood.
“I guess I think of myself as an actor before I think of myself as a gay actor,” he told BuzzFeed last year. “So when I take work or when I look for work, it’s really based on the projects.”
The Pennsylvania native began his career on the stage, but several high-profile TV gigs (and one of the most successful films of all time) have made him one of the most recognizable faces (and voices) in Hollywood. While he’s found mainstream success, he’s also starred in several gay-themed projects. Most recently, he appeared alongside stars Mark Ruffalo, Jim Parsons, Matt Bomer and Julia Roberts in director Ryan Murphy’s The Normal Heart.
He described the challenge of working on the gay dramedy Looking to OUT magazine last year: “Trying to humanize the gay experience and make it universal while also trying to tell specifically gay stories is an interesting Catch-22, because there is something unique and special about being gay—and, there’s something completely normal and just like everybody else about being gay.”
See some of our favorite Groff clips, and share your thoughts in the comments, AFTER THE JUMP ...
Groff’s first major role was in the Broadway hit Spring Awakening. After originating the role of Melchior in 2006, Groff earned a Tony Award nomination. (This is also where he first worked with B.F.F. — and future Glee co-star — Lea Michele.) You can see Groff (and Michele) perform at the Tony Awards, above.
Back when Glee was still relevant, Groff landed a recurring guest role as Jesse St. James. He received criticism for not playing a convincing heterosexual love interest for Lea Michele’s Rachel Berry from a critic for Newsweek. “All I can do is laugh and keep moving forward,” he said to The Los Angeles Times in 2012. “Sexuality is such an interesting thing. Unless you're playing a very effeminate person, a stereotypical queen, it's hard to say what it means to play gay.”
In 2013, Groff starred in C.O.G. The film is based on a short story from gay writer David Sedaris’ collection of essays, Naked.
We’ve written extensively about Groff’s new HBO series, Looking. The show garnered heaps and heaps of buzz before its debut for realistically portraying gay men in contemporary San Francisco. Although the show got off to a slow start, the last few episodes of the first season were much better. It was announced in February that the show will return for a second season.
You may also recognize Groff’s voice from the wildly successful, Academy Award-winning film Frozen. (It is currently the fifth-highest grossing film globally.) In it, he portrays Kristoff, the leading love interest for Princess Anna (Kristen Bell). His duet (with himself!) is no “Let It Go,” but we were more charmed by his work in the quirky featurette above.
Are you a fan of Groff’s work?